It’s Bill de Blasio’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” moment – he finally gets to share the stage with Bernie Sanders, only to get a little laryngitis.
Despite his faltering voice, de Blasio made the trip to Nevada over the weekend to try to talk up his endorsement of Sanders in advance of the Democratic caucuses there this Saturday. Whether voters in Reno know anything about the current mayor of New York City apparently isn’t the point when a former mayor of New York City is gaining steam in the polls. Even if he’s muzzled and a little muted, de Blasio sounds like he wants to be Sanders’ attack dog when it comes to Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomberg’s success in the presidential polls and the possibility that he might be hitting the debate stage in Nevada on Wednesday (despite not even being on the ballot there) must be infuriating to de Blasio – whose own presidential campaign could have been missed in a four-month-long blink last year.
With his billions of dollars and the ability to seemingly buy TV time at will, Bloomberg is both Sanders’ dream and nightmare opponent. The Vermont senator has raged against billionaires for most of his career. But like a dog that’s finally caught the car, what now exactly does he do?
De Blasio’s own relationship with Sanders is complicated. In 2016, the mayor’s heart was feeling the Bern but he backed Hillary Clinton, whose Senate campaign he managed in 2000. Perhaps angry that de Blasio delayed supporting her for months, Clinton never appeared with the mayor on the campaign trail.
Illustrating de Blasio’s own political duality, Bill Clinton administered the oath of office to de Blasio at his 2014 inauguration, while Sanders did the honors for him in 2018. (Term limits spares us from having to see de Blasio get sworn in by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2022 – and having to note that he didn’t endorse her when she first ran for office in 2018.)
It’s an odd time in New York City politics when the current mayor is riding point on a truth squad that’s attacking a former mayor – while another former mayor is playing hatchet man for a president who happens to be a longtime fixture in New York’s incestuous real estate world.
Bloomberg’s rise does provide de Blasio with a new opportunity to get some attention by trying to correct the record. But do you really want to be the guy who’s more than six years into his term and still railing about his predecessor?
Politics is a tough business when you want to give voice to the voiceless – especially when the voice you’re losing is one’s own.